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Dobbs in the house

Ruth White
Assistant Editor North and Halls/Fountain City news

Fountain City Elementary invited former UT quarterback Josh Dobbs to read to students during Dr. Seuss Month in March. Dobbs’ schedule wouldn’t allow for the visit but he kept the school that is tucked away in the heart of Fountain City on his mind.

“Josh hated that he missed reading to the students and called us to see if he could stop by before he leaves to begin his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers,” said principal Tina Holt. She was touched that Dobbs didn’t forget the school and wanted to come out and see the students.

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Marble City Opera celebrates new performance, fourth birthday

Kelly Norrell
Features columnist

Marble City Opera has new reasons to celebrate.

The city’s chamber opera company that performs mostly in small, innovative spaces is about to unveil a new production. “The Stronger,” a one-act opera about two women who spar in a tavern, will be at Holly’s Gourmet Market, 5107 Kingston Pike, May 18-19. Seating for a special dinner will be at 6:30 p.m., and the performance that features sopranos Julia Metry and Denisha Miller will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, with dinner separate.

And, Marble City Opera is about to turn four years old. The feisty startup company that began in 2013 as a way to make opera more accessible celebrates a birthday in late May. It has a solid track record in Knoxville, under artistic director, co-founder and singer Kathryn Frady and new general director Brandon Gibson. It has staged sold-out productions of “La Traviata,” “Chocolate and Wine,” “Amal and the Night Visitors,” “Sweets by Kate” and many more in creative venues like bars, historic homes, churches and other spaces that match the story setting.

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UT official gets $80,000 raise

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Ryan Robinson, the new vice chancellor for communications for UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport, receives a significant pay boost moving from assistant spokesman for the Athletics Department to the Chancellor’s office on May 17. He jumps $80,000 from his current $145,000 a year to $225,000.

This is more than double what the communications directors for Knoxville and Knox County make. It far exceeds the going rate for media people in the East Tennessee area. Why is UT doing this? The answer will be it is consistent with comparable positions in other universities. Many do not agree with that argument.

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Reporter’s notebook: Mangled trees and the return of an old political hand

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

What, oh what to do about the Alice Bell Park Tree Massacre? Weeks after a privately hired landscaping crew whacked major limbs off flowering trees in the park, city officials are having a tough time figuring out how to remedy the damage.

There’s been a lot of correspondence between Alice Bell Spring Hill Neighborhood Association president Ronnie Collins and city officials, but the matter is still unresolved. Collins’ first email was to urban forester Kasey Krouse, who said he’d already investigated the matter and learned that the culprits were landscapers hired by Amigos Restaurant, the park’s next-door neighbor.

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Cornerstone Foundation closing

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

The Cornerstone Foundation here in Knoxville, headed by former city director and attorney Laurens Tullock, is closing its doors on Sept. 4 after operating 20 years. The Foundation has been funded by Rodney and Dell Lawler.

The announcement stated that Cornerstone, which has funded many projects in East Tennessee impacting downtown development, disadvantaged kids and community leadership development, was never meant to be permanent.

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With the Tuskegee Airmen

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Local man looks back at changing times

One of the things Chester Bragg remembers about Dec. 7, 1941, was wondering what was happening to his brother Raymond. Chester was only 15, and had no clue that Pearl Harbor would begin something so big that it would swoop him up three years later and land him with one of the most famous fighting units in American history.

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